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Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Book Bloggers Are People, Too

Okay, I'm writing a blog in a response to a blog, so it might help if you read the blog I'm responding to first. In this case, it's this blog: 'Ain't nothing gonna break  my stride': or WTF YAlitchat.

Several things I want to point out before proceeding: That blog was written by April at Good Books &Wine, a person and blog I am unfamiliar with. I was only directed towards this blog because of somebody else's retweet.

The other thing is the really important part - I did not and have not read any of the #YAlitchat from February 2nd. It's because of that that I've been hesitant to comment on this blog, but it's been bothering me for a week now, so I've decided that I've got to say something.

If you didn't read the blog (which you should), I'll just explain the main points. YAlitchit is basically just a discussion on Twitter where people talk about young adult books. It's pretty self explanatory. According to what April says in her blog (which I have not confirmed), some things were mentioned in the YA lit chit staying (and I'll quote from her blog):

"People honestly think bloggers don’t sell books. People seem to also think negative reviews are unprofessional." 

"Towards the late middle/end of the chat, the tweets were flying about negative reviews and book bashers and blah-di-blah. If ever there is a pet peeve I have, that peeve is people telling me I can’t write about something I didn’t like."

"And, OF COURSE we get tweets that seem to me to be completely on the fringe. I.e. ‘bloggers who bash books should be blacklisted‘ and ‘bloggers should never bash an author’s writing"

And again, I'm going to encourage you to read her blog if you haven't already done so. Go. Hurry. I'll be here waiting when you get back.

The reason I debated on comment is because I didn't read the YAlitchat, so I don't know what exactly was said, and I don't like commenting on things I'm not certain of, and the reason I don't go back and read it, is because I knew it would really, really make me angry, and I didn't want to write an angry rant blog.

But I'm bothered enough by this where I feel like, as an author, I need to say something.

Book bloggers have saved my life. Book bloggers absolutely without a doubt sell books. I can prove it to you. In May, I sold just over 600 books. In June, I sold over 4,000. In May, I had no reviews. In June, book bloggers started reviewing my books.

And the truth, a lot of the reviews I got in June for My Blood Approves were 3-star reviews, and it STILL sold . Because they were solid, well-written reviews that explained what they liked about it and what they didn't. They were honest, and that's important, because then readers trust them. Readers won't buy books from people they don't trust, and so reviewers need to be honest. They need to say when they didn't like something. They need to say what they want to say.

Seriously. That's just a totally insane concept to me. Clearly book bloggers sell books, and they do it all for FREE. They're only payment is "free" books. Really think about that. Their payment for selling my book is getting to read my book. And they work their butts off.

Writing reviews is really, really hard. I mean in-depth reviews that explain what worked and what didn't. That's incredibly difficult. I don't know how they do it. I couldn't do it. Nor would I want to. These people are super human.

They're juggling families and jobs and school and pets and dishes, and they make time in their busy schedule to not only read a book but review it. That astounds me. I'm in awe of their drive.

Julie Brazeal at A Tale of Many Reviews has probably sold at least a thousand of my books herself. She's been like a one woman fan club. Alex Bennet is my self-proclaimed #1 fan, and he's only fourteen, and he's writing blogs, doing video book reviews, going to school, AND on top of that, he's writing his own stuff. I have no idea how he has time to sleep.

There's so many more book bloggers, too many to name. (And I'm sorry if I didn't mention you. My brain shorted out, but I know there's A TON of you who have helped me, but I feel a bit like I'm about to give an Oscar speech, and they just started playing the wrap up music. My mind isn't working, but THANK YOU).

And that's not even counting all the people who take the time to review my books on Goodreads, Amazon, and Barnes & Noble, or all the people I don't even know about who are telling their friends and family. I get emails and comments from people all the time saying they heard about my books from their friend/sister/daughter/brother.

I honestly don't believe I've ever sold in a book in my life. The book bloggers, the readers, these are the salesmen. These are the people out there selling my books by talking about them honestly. And I am so, so, so grateful for them. Unbelievably grateful.

When I send out ARCs, I want an honest review. That means sometimes people don't like my books. And that's fine. I know that when I sent it out.

Book reviewers have to be afforded the right to be honest, even if it means being negative, otherwise it defeats the whole purpose. Readers trust their opinions because they're honest, and if readers don't trust them, they won't read the reviews or buy the books. So nobody wins in that situation. Everybody needs them to be honest, including authors.

Now, I will say that there is a difference between saying "I hated this book" and "I hate the author and think they're smelly and stupid and hope they die." And any reputable book blogger would never say the latter, and if they did, authors probably would stop sending them ARCs, as they should. It's one thing to review a book. It's another to attack a person.

So, no, I'm not defending personal attacks, but writing a negative review on a book doesn't equate a personal attack

So that's all. That's the end of this. April really said it all best in her blog. I just felt that since book bloggers have done so much for me, I wanted to stand up and say that, as an author, I agree with those sentiments and I support you guys. I know how much work you really do, and I appreciate it immensely.

35 comments:

  1. Howdy from Down Under,

    I just ran and read as you said, "Go . Hurry"...so I did and you did wait:D
    Marissa and I are couple of older fuzzy wombats who loved to rant about books and met on an online Twilight ( yes the book) site and finally met last September in Melbourne. Kinda neutral ground as we live on opposite sides of Australia. Twilight brought us together and we loved to rant about a book and then we decided to do a blog. Which I personally have the daftest tech skills, so Marissa is tech fairy and set it up and I have learnt to bluff my way through tech stuff. Gotta remember a blog in itself is hard to set up and get all puuurrrttty. We started the blog cause we loooovvveee to read. We have 6 kids ( between us 3 a piece) and an assortment of pets and we are wives and full time job and I have part time job...but!! we love reading sooo much that we stay up to wee hours reading, when it is nice and calm and the rugrats and hubby are snoring in bed and you can hear a pin drop. ( nice..sigh) The whole writing a review I NEED to take my time and really think it out as giving a review without spoilers is very hard. If I have trouble with a book I DO try to find a positive and review that. Luckily I have had mostly if not all excellent books to review. Do we get ARC's nope...loL!! We have been hooked up to NETGALLEY but anybody can get an ebook Arc from there. Other day we got contacted by couple authors which had us jumping all giddy and girlie as we don't get asked. Well in 6 months via Goodreads we have been asked once and then via our blog. So well and truly we do it for the love. We spend a fortune on books cause we want to. I sneak a few bucks each week to buy books and then my daughter counts my books and top of her voice announces to hubby mummy has 135 books. Im like ssshhhh!! Its my pleasure to read and write reviews and I have the most awesome time doing it. Sure I could be spending more time with the 3 kids and hubby , but sometimes I have to have some me time and if I lose sleep , well thats my choice as its my hobby. We currently have an Arc which is for a giveaway. I shall read and it gets past on. So book bloggers I think are the coolest people as its time consuming and expensive but when you love doing something , it doesn't matter. We dont have a lot of followers but it doesn't stop us. Five people could read our work, but we just keep on keeping on as we enjoy it . I personally wouldnt bash an author ( verbally of course) as I think its disrespectful. A lot of heart and soul goes into writing a book and thats just not fair to be mean or nasty. As the story may not be to your liking but doesn't mean the author is horrible. Its a story!!! So author bashers need to be put in their place as thats wrong. Reviewing isnt easy it takes thought and planning but nor is writing a book.

    I would feel proud if I knew the stats of how many books our blog helped sell. That would be cool to know you helped.

    Anyhoo, gotta stack of reviews to write so must dash and then a TBR pile thats like the leaning tower of Pisa..all for the love:D

    Michelle

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  2. p.s. any idea what you are calling MBA #5, I am hanging to read it, no pressure..loL!!


    Michelle

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  3. Amanda:

    A big ole' quack out to you. I couldn't agree more. You know what I say about those folks who believe that if you don't have something nice to say you shouldn't say anything at all?

    Those folks never wanted to sell a movie, a restaurant or -- a book.

    We'd all like to read only good things about our work, but I know that reader reviews on Amazon that have negative comments always get my attention. They always make me think. (So do positive reviews but they only make me think after I get through doing the happy dance around my den - or my office. The latter often creeps people out. No one wants to see a lawyer doing the happy dance.) But I've made changes to an ongoing WIP especially because a reviewer on Amazon said one of my books, A Faerie Fated Forever - was good, but she thought it was too long. I'm making the new one shorter, which is actually hard for me.

    Any commentary about the book - good, bad or ugly - gets the word out. It helps us get folks to notice us. And that's the front door to selling the book. Personally, I think it'd be harder to review a book I didn't like. A negative review makes the reviewer open up more of herself than a positive review.

    Thanks to all the folks everywhere who take the time to do book reviews. The big publishers can get reviews anywhere, anytime. Indies wouldn't have a shot without reviewers who take the risk of being honest about their opinions.

    Quacking Alone

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  4. Thank you for this lovely post. It just made blogging even rewarding for me :)

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  5. I must be having a brain fart, but what is an ARC?

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  6. @ Megan

    ARC - Advance Readers Copy

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  7. I love this, and your success story!

    Thank you for the link and I think I will absolutely go check out your books, because I really really really like your response! (And things like that matter to me).

    I am SO SO SO happy you've had a good experience with bloggers.

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  8. Great post! Thanks for the support for us bloggers and hoorah for your success! :)

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  9. Thank you. It is nice to be appreciated and reminded that what we do matters.

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  10. I saw you listed in PM, then I found this blog, and now I'm going to buy your books. Looks to me like you sold your own books too, just by the honesty and clarity of your words. I can't wait to read.

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  11. Gorgeously said! I have to say, I agree with you on every point.

    I have been following all of this with great interest... and even left a comment on the original post.



    You have put everything that was on my mind so much better than I could, especially why I feel motivated to write HONEST reviews.

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  12. Congrats Amanda on the USA Today article!!! Sounds like an E-Book Revolution to me. ;-)

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  13. You already know this, but YOU ROCK! Thank you for the blogger support and the mention!

    I was a part of #YAlitchat that night and I will add that this chat is usually really good and informative. This one was too, for the most part. But, yes, comments were placed by some and others did respond, but overall the WHOLE chat, I didn't leave with a negative feel. There were MANY people participating and many mini-threads going, so it wasn't like a whole blogger bash. At least not from what I viewed and the tweets I was participating in. I did read some of the negative comments, but chose not to respond to those, except one, and moved on to the other tweets about ways to help promote books, etc. The topic was about bloggers that night. You went in knowing this.

    There was one comment that made me pause, "Is the blogger world just talking to themselves?" Well, Amanda, you've made the point with just your own personal sales that no, we reach far more people than each other. BUT, we do follow and take recommendations from other bloggers, and THEN we spread it to our community of people. So, a huge possibility for word of mouth to grow like wild fire. Do you know how many of us are in education and have students, librarians, or just plain 'ol avid readers that ask us what we read? In REAL LIFE, not just online. So, yeah, I did comment on that one at #YAlitchat. hehe

    Main points:

    1) Amanda Hocking rocks and thank you for having our backs too, supporting bloggers and our efforts publicly. You know I love your work and your response to this just makes me love you more. :)

    2) #YAlitchat in itself is a great place to connect with others in the YA field with different topics every week. Keep in mind, those comments were views of INDIVIDUALS participating.:)

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  14. Getting ready to do a book review on a book that I enjoyed but didin't most the time. Now it's confirmed. Honesty is the best policy.

    Thank you much.
    Shelly

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  15. Great post:) Tweeting it. I try to separate my personal tastes from the quality of the writing/story when I review books.

    I also like to mention the content- if there are fbombs on every page, what level of romance, violence, etc. because that matters to some.

    Good luck Amanda! sharing on Twitter:)

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  16. Totally agree with you Amanda. I wouldn't be where I am today without book bloggers!

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  17. Great post as always, and it's also great to hear from some of the blogger-reviewers! The blog in question is interesting because the GOOD BOOK & GOOD WINE review policy specifically states that April DOES NOT review self-pubbed authors. She only accepts books from traditional publishers. Frankly I wish she did, because a good book is a good book, regardless. Right?

    As far as the rest of the conversation goes, I'm in complete agreement. Writers need bloggers (especially indie authors), and frankly every artist should be subject to some constructive criticism. Every book will not suit every reader, but it certainly doesn't hurt to have a critical perspective on our work from time to time.

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  18. This topic is blowing up right now. Amanda, I love what you're doing and this post is a great example of why. If you follow NPR's Monkey See or Smart Bitches, Trashy Novels or many other blogs, they have tweeted and commented about the following: http://www.authors-helping-authors.com/2011/02/authors-beware-of-unprofessional.html

    It's written by an author who is taking the opposite position to yours and it is turning into something of a storm it looks like.

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  19. Book bloggers are super-important to indie authors--I owe so much to people like Darkeva and the Bewitched Bookworms who've gone to a lot of trouble to help promote my books.

    A reviewer must be honest, because that's their whole reputation. If they enthusiastically recommend a book, and you buy it, and it's not very good, then you won't trust that reviewer again.

    Critical reviews can help readers find what they want & avoid what they don't, which is also good for writers in the long run. And we all need honest critical feedback so we can improve. An author who can't take criticism just isn't professional.

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  20. I whole-heartedly agree. If a review isn't honest, what's the point? Of course reviewers should be free to point out a book's flaws.

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  21. Thank you for posting this. It is a clear sign that you have not forgotten your roots on this subject. Granted I do not know if you began the blog before or after, it is nice to know you are considerate and thoughtful.
    With the success of your series, I am surprised you take the time to read other blogs as you do. It shows professionalism and a will to strive for perfection in writing.
    That being said of your skill and merit, I would like to extend an offer to read an advanced review copy (ARC) of your next book. Since I have not yet read your novels, it places my potential review in a fresh perspective. The information is on my website. All I ask is that you send an email before sending the material as it will allow me to check the mail at an appropriate time.
    Once again, kudos for sticking up for the blogger in all of us.


    Virgil Allen Moore
    http://demonvampire.com/
    http://facebook.com/virgilallenmoore/

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  22. I think honestly a lot of people have just gotten confused. I don't think most people think book bloggers should never write negative reviews. I think the opinion is that WRITERS should not publicly negatively review their PEERS. Because it's in poor taste.

    Some people who insist on being both writers and book bloggers under the same name want to have their cake and eat it too. But there is a reason Nicole Kidman is not a film critic.

    Just my 2 cents.

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  23. I think I came across your name (books) through a blog and I have since read all of your books!

    Now, I'm a writer and of course, I have a blog. Sometimes I do post books that I've enjoyed from other writers, but I always make it clear that I'm NOT a reviewer (it's just too hard!)...just promoting other authors good works (I usually just leave it at, "hey! I read this, it's great, you should read it too!")

    When I finally get my book out, I hope I'm lucky enough to get reviewed by a book blogger...even if it's not favorable (just remember to spell my name right!)

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  24. @NovelsOnTheRun - I didn't mention you in the blog, either, and I'm sorry. I know your reviews have definitely helped my books because I seem to get a disproportionate number of reviews and fanmail from Austrailia. So you've made an impact, and I appreciate it :)

    @April Thank you!

    @Julie (Tale of Many Reviews) Thank you for clarifying the points about what was said at #YAlitchit. And I want to go on to reiterate that point. I have read and participated in them before, and generally speaking, they are very helpful and informative. The above comments mentioned in this blog do NOT represent the chat as a whole or every individual involved.

    @Zoewinters You make another valid point. I do think there is a big difference between a "professional" reviewer (I put "professional" in quote because someone who has a blog solely for reviewing, but they don't get compensated for their reviews, at least not the way that Roger Ebert does) and an author who blogs and occasionally reviews things.

    I personally do not think it is in an author's best interest to negatively review another peer's book. That does NOT mean that if an author reads a book they hate should lie and say they love it, but I think it gets in tricky territory for an author to say something negative about someone else's work publicly without getting some kind of backlash.

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  25. I agree, Amanda. And oh... I had thought the thing I was seeing people saying was to do with an Internet kerfuffle that happened last week with regards to authors negatively reviewing fellow authors... but... NO... it was not. It was where an author ACTUALLY called a book blogger unprofessional for writing a negative review.

    0.O HOLY CRAP! Someone linked me to it.

    So ignore my insane meanderings, apparently I'm like a week behind on what the Internet is upset about.

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  26. @Zoe I didn't hear about that fiasco until somebody posted the link in my comments. And that is a fiasco that I am not going near. I know book bloggers have helped me and I appreciate them. And that's about that.

    And I forgot to mention Stephanie at Fangs, Wands, and Fairydust. She's been really, really awesome to me. She emails me randomly to tell me when she says that I'm doing well. And that is cool.

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  27. Thank you for writing this. I try not to write negative reviews, always look for the positive and all that, but in one instance I did write one. I was asked to review it and out of habit, I also posted my review on amazon.com. I did not attack the author, but I pointed out what I did not like about the book. The author read it and accused me of being "mean spirited" and we kept commenting back and forth until I finally just deleted my review. I was just being honest and I was not attacking her at all. I hate to admit it, but that experience has left me a little leery of doing book reviews now.

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  28. Thank you for posting this. As a book blogger i always strive to write 100% honest reviews, and sometimes that means it can be a negative review. I'm always telling people that negative reviews go along with the postive. I don't beleive in 'bashing' an author's work but I try my best to write detailed reviews about what I did and didn't like about books. As far as I'm concerned I write my honest opinions on my blog, and I'll continue to do so. Negative reviews are as important as postive reviews and in a lot of cases can actually sell more books...

    It's the relasionship between blogger and author that I'm most concerned about when I write a negative review because unfortunitley their are many authors who see a negative review and can't take the critique. I for one am glad you're one of the authors who can take both negative and positive feedback about you're work.

    This was a HUGE thing, it was a big ongoing debate for a while. I'm with you on this one, and glad you've done a post about it.

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  29. Amen. As a blogger, I love to hear that! Great post!

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  30. You make an excellent point. Our readers do trust us and our opinions so we have to be honest.

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  31. Hi Amanda,

    Thanks for that comment, appreciate it. I do sooo love your books and taking the bull by the horn and doing your thing. I am very proud of you:)

    I do love your choices for casting. Well done:D
    I am raving to all my BB's about your books as they are worth raving about. I thinks its about time I did my Ascend review , I was waiting for everybody to read it.

    Michelle

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  32. I like how honest your post is and I agree wholeheartedly. I keep seeing your books around and people keep mentioning you on forums etc. So I finally took the plunge and bought one! As I do with all Authors, regardless of their popularity, I'll let you know when I've reviewed it... ^^

    comacalm.blogspot.com

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  33. Hi Amanda,

    I've reviewed almost all of your books on Amazon and I now have a very professional book blog that just had a 'Grand Opening' on February 8th. I am fortunate enough to already have over 360 followers there.

    On Amazon I bounce back and forth between 900 to 2000 of their most 'helpful' reviewers.
    As I told you earlier, I had hoped to feature you in the first week of April and I still will. I already have your reviews and I belong to "I Support Indie Authors" and proudly display it on my Blog.

    I have always followed you, even before you got super famous and I remember the first email you sent me asking me to review Switched before it went out. I didn't have a blog then but I was posting reviews on Amazon.I immediately fell in love with the Trylle and your books.

    I love that you're supporting Book Blogs; I got into it to just review books and support my favorite authors. I've haven't been doing it for a full month yet but close enough.
    I find since I've had my blog I spend way more time online then reading or doing anything else.

    I've been wicked sick this past month, can't walk at all, and all that that entails.
    I'm not complaining because I'm blessed with so many wonderful friends and family. I still maintain my blog the best I can. After passing out for 3 hours I was working on my blog that same night. I am dedicated to it. I really am. So, a REALLY BIG THANK YOU! Book Bloggers everywhere won't forget this. I know I won't, even though you didn't mention me, LOL, J/K... I'm just an Amazon reviewer. My Hollowland review is still going strong there, I have no idea why but it is. So is one of my Trylle reviews. Again, who knows why?
    Well, this is one long post so I'm off to work on my blog!

    Thanks again Amanda!

    Krist L Stern --- The Book Faery
    www.thebookfaery.com
    twitter @the_bookfaery (you never answer me when I tweet you.)

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